Books I Loathed discussion

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Loathed Titles > A Prayer for Owen Meany

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message 1: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:37AM) (new)

Kate (katiebobus) | 136 comments Mod
Could someone please tell John Irving that, no matter how hard he tries -- and oh, does he ever try hard -- he's just NOT FUNNY? When I tried to read this book, I could only picture John Irving sitting there writing it and stopping to reread bits and chortling with glee at his cleverness. Only it's like a five-year-old telling knock-knock jokes that everyone else heard a hundred times, minus any actual cuteness.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I read A Prayer For Owen Meany about 10 years ago, and at the time I found Owen himself to be one of the most annoying people who ever showed up in fiction. At the time I posted my observations at a Prodigy message board, and people wanted my head for it. One guy actually said this book changed his life! For him this book was an intense religious experience. I darn near fell off my chair laughing at that, but he was quite serious. I've been meaning to reread Owen to see if my perspective has changed over time. I doubt that it will because Owen will still be annoying, and you, Kate, have pointed out what I just couldn't put my finger on. That's it exactly -- a 5 year old telling knock-knock jokes. Thank you for clearing that up for me.


message 3: by Cassiel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

Cassiel I think I joined this group just so I could rant about how much I despise the novel, the character, and John Irving's work in general. What a complete dud of a writer. I bought several of his books(thrift store thankfully) and tortured myself last summer reading them, thinking that eventually I would come across something worthwhile. No such luck. I'd like to tell John Irving to stop writing period.


message 4: by Linda B (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:39PM) (new)

Linda B | 4 comments LOVED prayer for Owen Meany. I think JI is very talented. I did hate his book Fourth Hand which I don't think is on par with any other Irving's books but I thougth PFOM was a masterpiece!


message 5: by Jess (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:39PM) (new)

Jess | 7 comments I also loved A Prayer for Owen Meany and am a fan of John Irving. I actually like how his characters and their situations are so extreme and out there and that I would probably never meet anyone like his characters in real life. I really liked Hotel New Hampshire and at the same time hope that the strange situations in this book would never happen in reality (but I guess that's how most fiction works!:)
There are the exceptions though that I will not read again like Fourth Hand and 158 Lb. Marriage. I still need to read Serting Free the Bears, Water Method Man and Son of the Circus.


message 6: by Clare (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:40PM) (new)

Clare | 53 comments I have enjoyed most of John Irving's books though his most recent ones seem as if Irving is tired and struggling to write. The World According to Garp is wonderful in my opinion. I read many of Irving's books because I loved the Garp one so much. I think his constant referral to the circus theme, handicaps, wrestling, etc. are unique and interesting; I'd love to meet him in real life.


message 7: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:00PM) (new)

Amy Lynn | 1 comments I was recommended PFOM by a guy I was dating so I bought it and tried to read it but I actually kept setting the book down in odd places and losing it. Clearly, I was not engaged. I never thought it was funny. I never thought anyone would have thought it was funny. It was so painfully drawn out that I just gave up. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your POV) the guy who recommened it to me and I weren't dating anymore. He must have thought I was the slowest reader ever because I never made any progress on the book.


message 8: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) LOL. This is one of my favorite books of all time. Hee.


message 9: by Stephanie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:15PM) (new)

Stephanie (pavotrouge) | 1 comments I loved it, too.
Took me a while to actually like John Irving, though.


message 10: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:23PM) (new)

Diane  (dianedj) Irving is an "acquired taste" I think you either love him, or you hate him.


message 11: by Courtney (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:24PM) (new)

Courtney Stirrat I think there is a direct correlation between loving Margaret Atwood and hating John Irving (and perhaps vice versa). I have thought Irving was the most overrated writer of the 20th Century for years, but I have friends who I respect greatly who adore him. I have never gotten it, but then I also know a lot of people who just do not get Atwood. I think she is insanely brilliant and can never seem to understand. Maybe its a gender thing?


message 12: by Ann M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:24PM) (new)

Ann M | 39 comments I wouldn't call Irving funny, either. His comic touch is a little too heavy. I liked Garp and Widow for One Year, but I didn't like a few of his others, and don't feel compelled to read all of his books.

Atwood, though -- she is always compelling because some of her work is thoroughly brilliant, and even the stories that seem mundane will have flashes of brilliance and wit.


message 13: by Bronwyn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:25PM) (new)

Bronwyn | 29 comments I have only read Garp, but I have to admit I loved it. I think Irving has a very twisted sense of humor which is something I appreciate.


message 14: by Norman (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:25PM) (new)

Norman (normanince) | 48 comments In response to Courtney's comment, I don't think there is any correlation between loving Atwood and hating Irving, or vice versa.

Atwood is a more reflective writer whose characters are often quietly quirky - the plot is in many ways secondary to the point of view that shapes and interprets those events. With Irving, bizarre events and characters combine to shape a storyline with its own momentum, and the main character's point of view becomes far less important.

Thus Irving's characters seem to be pulled along by an almost random chain of events, while Atwood's characters analyze their own roles in how and why events turn out as they do.


message 15: by Andrea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:47PM) (new)

Andrea (outlanderbookfan) | 10 comments I read PFOM a LONG time ago and remember little about it; however, Cider House Rules stuck with me from the moment I read it. I haven't read his others, but tried with Hotel New Hampshire and couldn't get off the first chapter.


message 16: by Saras (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:04PM) (new)

Saras | 2 comments Although I do agree that Owen would be one of the most annoying people to meet (think about that Voice!) I think he's hilarious at the same time, simply because he has no idea of how hilarious he is.

APFOM was a little slow in the beginning for me, but I found that I liked it in the end. I don't find it at all unfunny. A part in the book I could not help but enjoy immensely was the prank on the Swiss teacher's car. C'mon, it can't be THAT bad!


message 17: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:04PM) (new)

Jason (gireesh42) Good point, Norman. I kind of got that feeling with Garp, which is the only Irving I've read. It should have been called Garp According to the World. While I enjoyed it, I was not overly impressed and not really excited about reading more. I gave it to my younger sister, who doesn't read as much. I thought it might help her appreciate more contemporary fiction (which she rarely gets into) without making her work at it. I now think of Irving as the vanilla of decent late 20th C. novelists--he gets it down, with fun characters and a decent plot, but it just doesn't get me riled up.


message 18: by Robbie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:05PM) (new)

Robbie Bashore I read Garp when I was probably too young to fully understand it, but I don't recall being that excited about it.

Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favorite books of all time. I don't recall finding it funny, nor did I ever get a sense that it was supposed to be funny.


message 19: by Stewart (new)

Stewart (booklit) | 7 comments I read 'A Prayer For Owen Meany' in January 2006 and I remember really loving it. But I've never felt the need to go seeking out more of Irving's work. I'd like to read 'A Prayer For Owen Meany' again, to see if it really was as good as I remember and because I want to review it, something I never did at the time.


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